First United Methodist Church of Orlando has been a spiritual presence in the heart of The City Beautiful for more than 140 years. As the city has grown, so has the church in its commitment to put our faith in action by making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Our beginnings are traced to the Methodist Circuit Riders, who ministered in the 1840s throughout Central Florida. In 1874, Methodists joined with two other denominations to hold regular church services in the old red-brick country courthouse in the center of town.
In 1882, Methodists built their own small church on the west corner of Magnolia Avenue and Jackson Street.
Our current sanctuary was completed in 1963. With its unique architecture and meaning-filled stained glass, the building is listed on the “Tours of Orlando.”
In 2007, the City of Orlando approached First Church to purchase our Wesley Building to make way for their construction of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. An agreement was reached, and First Church began to build our new Ministries and Education Building on the same block as our Sanctuary. It opened in 2012 and houses a contemporary worship sanctuary, chapel, fellowship and learning spaces and a variety of church ministries, as well as being open to the downtown community.
Our Wesley Early Learning & Family Center is housed in the Ledbetter and Asbury Buildings across Magnolia Avenue from the sanctuary. Wesley serves infants through kindergarteners in an environment of love and trust. The center strives to meet the varied needs of today’s families and to provide an atmosphere where children from all backgrounds, can flourish and grow physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
For more than a century, ministries of our congregation have reached out to our community. Our church was involved in the start of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, the Christian Service Center, the Russell Home for Atypical Children, and IDignity. First Church has served as the “mother church” for Broadway, Holden Heights (now closed), Pine Hills (now closed), College Park, Peace, and St. Luke’s United Methodist churches.
First United Methodist Church of Orlando continues to offer an innovative program of ministries that impact the needs of downtown Orlando, serving from the very young to the young-at-heart, and welcoming all who attend.